For most of my adult life I’ve been overweight, not necessarily by my looks but by those ridiculous BMI charts that insist that I should only carry 140 pounds on my 5 foot 6 inch frame. I’ve lost and gained countless pounds over the years, and in my 20s I actually weighed 135 pounds for a while -- ah, the Fen-Phen years! But my entire family thought I was starving myself. I looked like a walking head with big eyes rolling around in my skull and my breasts all but disappeared. I was right for the charts, but too small for me.
When my beloved weight loss drugs were taken off the market, I settled somewhere around 200 pounds when I was about 30. You may think this sounds huge, but this weight was comfortable for me; I had my 38Ds and other curves where I wanted them. I was also in pretty good control of my body. I was a good and coordinated dancer, I didn’t get winded on the Stairmaster, and I could still pull my share of men. I wasn’t having much sex at this weight, not because there weren’t offers, but rather because I just wasn’t interested.
By my early 30s, I’d started having sex again and it was more enjoyable than it had been when I was a skinny twentysomething. I was more experienced and less self-conscious about my body. Not to brag, but I put it on a few men in my time, had them begging for more. Maybe other women weren’t as flexible as me, but I was plenty flexible for my needs and those of my partners.
Then, I suffered a long depression during which my weight ballooned to 237 pounds. I was miserable because of my disease, and I decided to become celibate.
Fast forward to age 40, when I’d been free of depression for a few years but still without sexual activity. I got the idea that I should train for a half-marathon. With daily running I dropped 30 pounds and achieved the best fitness of my life. I also started seeing someone and having regular sex.
It. Was. Awesome. It could’ve been the running endorphins or the weight loss, or it could’ve been the increase in sex drive that comes in your 40s. Whatever. I could be on top for hours, twist my body into a pretzel and achieve any position in the supplement to the Kama Sutra. I was a dynamo. Please, curtail your jealousy.
Then I fell into depression again. I broke up with my dude. I developed arthritis in my knee and had to stop running. Of course my weight inched back up to pre-half-marathon levels, but I was too depressed to care. And too depressed to have a sex drive. But eventually my depression lifted, along with my carnal desire, and I started my search for a lover. I settled on a friend I’d known for a few years, and our first time together was... awkward.
I went into the encounter feeling pretty good about myself. After all, the last time I’d had sex I’d performed incredibly, at least according to my boyfriend. But this time nothing clicked. OK, so the requisite pieces fit together pleasurably, but I felt like I was carrying rocks on my limbs. You know like how people say that they rolled around in bed? Yeah, for me there was no rolling because I couldn’t comfortably propel my body in the around direction.
For a while I thought that the awkwardness was because I was a little rusty, and because I was with a new partner. I’d been with my ex-boyfriend for two years and we’d known each other far longer than that, so clearly I just had to get used to another lover. Fine. Also, I was two years older and not exercising regularly.
The next time I met my new man there was more of the same. I enjoyed the sex -- you know, a nicely-sized Tab A fitting into Slot B is never a bad thing -- but I was still troubled by my lack of agility. I felt like a Fat Girl.
Don’t get me wrong: my lover didn’t mind my size at all. He caressed the folds in my sides, and he deftly moved aside my protruding lower belly to get deeper penetration.
It all seemed routine for him, but I was far from performing at my personal status quo. I felt clunky and clumsy, especially when I had to hold my knees behind my head instead of just flinging ‘em back there on demand. You get the picture.
For the first time in my life, I felt like my body was betraying me. Not the way it looked, because there’s always someone to corroborate your appeal no matter what size you are. But the way it behaved. I could look at myself naked all day, my thick thighs, my round face and squishy midsection, and see a sexy creature. But when it came to actual sex, my overweight body betrayed my positive self-image.
The thing is, I didn’t talk to my sex partner about this. Maybe with all of my bravado about how sexy I thought I looked, I really didn’t feel that way at all. Perhaps I didn’t want to call attention to my weight or my size because I didn’t want to deal with it. If I felt uncomfortable in any area of my life, I was supposed to deal with it instead of hashing it out with other people. Right?
Then something interesting happened. One of my good male friends, someone I’ve recently rediscovered through the joys of Facebook, made me a sexual proposition. Out of the blue, he texted me and told me how sexy he found me, and how much he wanted to sleep with me. Given my recent experiences I hemmed and hawed. Made excuses for how my body looked. Talked about how I wasn’t as good at sex as I used to be. He countered with how appealing he found me and a recounting of all the things he wanted to do to me.
I’m not going to say that it took a man paying attention to me to rethink my erotic dexterity and with it, my self-esteem. I will say, however, that listening to my friend’s musings made me remember that sex isn’t all about what I can do for my partner, but also about what my partner can provide for me, no matter how hard it is for me to do the reverse cowgirl position without having to lean down on my arms.
Though I already have a lover, I’ll be taking my friend up on his offer eventually. It’s very nice to be worshipped from afar by someone who means to deliver on his promises. And it’s nice to be reminded that I have value for who I am and not for what I do in bed. I don’t know what exactly will happen when we get together. But just in case, I’ve started planking to build my upper arm strength.